What you can do in Thessaloniki in just three hours
On our way to Halkidiki, we stopped in Thessaloniki, a city full of charm and color. Here is what we managed to do in just three hours.
First, we looked for a parking space to leave our car. We left the car in the Passenger Terminal Parking (P1), a fairly large parking lot with a barrier, for which we paid approximately 5 euros for 3 hours at the end of our stay. We were able to pay by card, and we were satisfied with this parking lot.
From there, we went in a straight line on Leof Nikis Street to the White Tower. On the right side, there was the Thessaloniki Gulf of the Aegean Sea, a crystal blue sea but full of garbage on the shore, and on the left side, there were buildings with various shops and cafes on the ground floor.
What you can visit in Thessaloniki
On the way to the White Tower, we passed by Aristotelous Square, where we stopped for a few moments. Aristotelous Square is a large space flanked by neoclassical buildings on one side and the sea on the other. All around there are cafes and restaurants, and in the center is the statue of Aristotle.
The White Tower of Thessaloniki
From Aristotelous Square, we had to walk less than a kilometer to the White Tower. The ticket for an adult cost 6 euros in June 2023 and included an audio guide. The audio guide can be accessed by scanning the QR code found on each floor and can be listened to on your own smartphone.
There was also the option of purchasing a combined ticket that included the Byzantine Culture Museum, the White Tower Museum, the Archaeological Museum, and the Rotunda monument. It had a price of 15 euros and was valid for three days.
On each of the six floors of the tower, there is an exhibition, each with a different theme or concept. The exhibitions were quite digitized, with many interactive screens, and people with reduced mobility could take a virtual tour of the museum at the information stations located on the ground floor. As an additional example, on the 6th floor, the theme refers to the “flavors” of the city. Part of the space has been transformed into a small dining area, and the table tops are screens with videos showing the preparation of recipes specific to the city of Thessaloniki.
But the main reason for our visit was the view offered by the balcony on the top floor. We took some photos and then continued our walk through Thessaloniki.
Near the White Tower, there is another tourist attraction: the statue of Alexander the Great. But we actually changed directions and headed towards the ruins of the Galerius Palace.
Palace of Galerius
The Palace of Galerius, located in Navarinou Square, was built in the 4th century AD by the Roman emperor Galerius (293–311 AD). Although the ruins can be visited from the inside, we were content to see them from the side.
Very close to the Palace of Galerius ruins is the Trigona Elenidi patisserie, known in Thessaloniki for its triangle pastry filled with vanilla cream. We also tried such a triangle, and we confirm that it was very good. Kind of sweet, but good.
Arch of Galerius
The Arch of Galerius, also known as the Kamara, was built to immortalize the victorious campaigns of the Tetrarchy. And the reliefs found on the lower half of the construction are related to the campaign against the Persians.
Just like Hadrian’s Arch in Athens, can be seen for free by any passerby.
From the Arch of Galerius, you can already see the impressive monument of the Rotunda.
The Rotunda, built by the Roman emperor Galerius in 306 AD, is a circular structure (hence the name Rotunda) that served over time as a temple, church, and mosque, and today it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the top attractions of Thessaloniki.
We paid 6 euros to visit the interior, which is impressive and fascinating at the same time.
This is all we could do in the short time we had in Thessaloniki. In our walk, we passed by many beautiful buildings, especially churches with an old air that rose between the modern buildings.
We couldn’t leave the city and go on the road without tasting souflaki first. So, we quickly looked on Google Maps and searched for a place with as many good reviews as possible. We chose to eat at Derlicatesen all Souvlaki. A pork souflaki in pita cost 3 euros; it was good, but not as good as the one eaten at Kostas in Athens. It had a lot of fries and a mustard sauce, and that’s about it; nothing too exciting.
Then we sweetened ourselves with a choux with vanilla cream and ice cream, on top of which we added white chocolate and caramel from Choureál, Choux & Profiterole. This time, we have to admit that the dessert was very good, and we appreciated that we were offered water with ice from the house, which we really enjoyed after the dessert.
We didn’t stop to take pictures or make other visits, so in 15 minutes we got to the car and started on the road to Halkidiki. The first impression of Thessaloniki was not extraordinary, but after the 3 hours spent in the city, we left thinking that we would return.